Undergraduate research exhibition like a ‘science fair on steroids’

It’s a science fair like no other, where exhibits range from a study on Pinyon jays wearing radio harnesses to a look at how tongueless frogs eat their prey through high-speed suction.

At NAU’s second annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Design on Friday, April 28, undergraduate students will display more than 80 poster presentations on their research in chemistry, biology, microbiology and physical or Earth sciences, while 25 teams of students will make presentations on their engineering design projects.

It’s no wonder chemistry professor Ed Lewis calls this research exhibition a “science fair on steroids.”

The daylong exhibition will be held in the du Bois Center ballroom beginning at 8:30 a.m., with simultaneous design presentations from student teams representing engineering and professional programs and research presentations by a number of undergraduate students from the sciences.

The event, Lewis said, puts a public face on this important educational component that is the highlight of several programs of study at NAU.

“This institution provides a unique educational environment that is based on small class sizes, personal interactions between students and research faculty and the opportunity for undergraduate students to participate in cutting-edge research,” Lewis said.

The opportunity to participate in research and design projects as an undergraduate is not duplicated at most other colleges and universities, he added.

Jerry Charlow, director of engineering at Raytheon Missiles Systems, will speak at 1 p.m. about the “Pursuit of Excellence in Education.” Charlow was voted Black Engineer of the Year in 2001 and now runs an organization of 150 engineers at Raytheon.

Throughout the day, visitors will have the opportunity to see the real-world implications of a vast range of industries in which students have applied their research and design projects. Highlights include:

  • Chemistry student Haley Finley-Jones and chemistry professor Jani Ingram will present the findings of their study of the metals present in tattoo inks. Since the FDA does not currently regulate tattoo inks, it is important to better understand their composition, they explained.


  • A team of engineering students—Mark AbrahamsMichael Brown and Noah Schmadel—along with civil and environmental engineering professor Paul Gremillion, will demonstrate how they developed a portable, easy-to-use, self-contained water treatment unit that can provide enough power to produce a minimum of 100 gallons of water for 10 days.


  • Engineering students Heather MaldonadoVinnie PinedoLuke Hornburg and David Thomson, along with Tom Uno of the Institute for Human Development, will demonstrate the assistive electronic cart they designed for the disabled that will transport items from the trunk of a car to shelves and countertops inside of a house.

“Our goal is that this annual event becomes ingrained in the culture of our college,” said Stan Lindstedt, associate dean for research in the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences and a Regent’s Professor of biology. “In the process of students observing and reporting on the exhibits, doubtless a number of them will be inspired to become the next generation of undergraduate researchers.”

To download the program, including abstracts from all the presentations, click here.

For information, call (928) 523-2408.